Preston Vision Board Funding
The Preston City Vision Board is the body responsible for coming up with the unpopular and environmentally irresponsible idea of barraging the River Ribble, and of building large amounts of housing in the beautiful greenbelt areas in its floodplain.
Councillor Bhiku Patel recently asked Preston City Council "How much money is the city council putting forward in terms of supporting the Vision Board"
The answer given by 'a Council Spokesman', and printed in the Lancashire Evening Post was this: "The North West Development Agency and Preston City Council jointly funded the Vision Board for 2007/8 to the tune of £116,760".
However we find that when we check the record in Hansard, on 26th October 2006, Margaret Hodge told Geraldine Smith MP that the North West Development Agency had given Preston Vision Board £457,000.
There seems to be a very large difference between the figure of £116,760, which the Preston Council Spokesman says comes from BOTH the NWDA and the Council, and the £457,000 that the Minister said came solely from the NWDA.
The Council's quoted figures seem totally out of line with those given by the Minister, especially as we know that the feasibility study into the docks development cost over £120,000, and the feasibility study into the Barrage and Housing plans is likely to cost at least £235,000 (and as this is future expenditure, we don't think it was included in the Minister's figures).
Save The Ribble suggests that to clear up any confusion, the Preston Vision Board should now open up their accounts publicly to the people of Preston, and the council should state exactly how much money and council officer time they are devoting to the work of the Vision Board so that the people of Preston can know for sure:
Exactly how much public money is the Vision Board getting?
How much comes from the NWDA and how much from the Council?
What exactly are they spending it on?
How much, for example, was spent on lunches where Vision Board members met "key decision makers" as part of their "Contact Strategy"?
It's time for some transparency and democratic accountability from the businessmen and bureaucrats who are deciding the future of Preston and our river behind closed doors - as this is public money, we should have a right to know exactly how every penny is being spent, and whether it is being spent in our interests, or in the interests of greedy developers.